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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Last week, Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company was ordered to pay an administrative fine of $1.26 million for using information regarding consumers’ credit history to deny claims long after the underwriting process should have been completed.

For far too long, this company unjustly denied claims and forced consumers into financially devastating situations. This company’s handling of property insurance claims came to the attention of the Insurance Consumer Advocate (ICA) Robin Westcott  through numerous consumer complaints and requests for assistance to her office and my Division of Consumer Services. The ICA urged the Office of Insurance Regulation, who oversees this company, to investigate this issue and take action against any admitted insurance carrier that employs this type of unfair and unscrupulous business practice.

I am proud of the work of the ICA who went to battle for consumers on this issue and continues to fight for Floridians every day. I am also proud of the work of my Division of Consumer Services who helped bring this issue to the forefront. Every day, employees at the division help consumers with their insurance-related questions and concerns. They go to bat for their fellow Floridians and often serve as an intermediary between the consumer and an insurance company. Not only do they assist Floridians with their insurance issues, but they help consumers with a variety of issues within the scope of my office.

But it doesn’t end there. With tireless dedication to serving and helping those in need, the employees at the division often aid those with issues outside our office’s jurisdiction even if it is to ensure that the consumer is connected with the right person in the right agency.

I urge you to call our consumer hotline at 877-693-5236 so that we can help you through your issue or feel free to tweet or Facebook me with your question.

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Unclaimed Property Auction in Tampa Sat.

Saturday, June 8, the Florida unclaimed property auction is being held at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.Unclaimed Property Treasure Map

Click on image to enlarge.

This year there are more than 76,000 individual items to be sold, including jewelry, watches and rare coins, with a minimum reserve value in excess of $550,836. Featured items include a 1776 continental note, silver ingots, an 11-carat sapphire and diamond ring, silver flatware, South African Krugerrands, and an 18-carat gold and diamond cuff bracelet. You can preview these items and many more on Friday, June 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A catalog of the auction is available online.

In addition to intangible, monetary property, abandoned safe deposit box contents are turned over to the Bureau of Unclaimed Property, where the team works tirelessly to find the owners or heirs. When the owners or heirs cannot be located, the items go to auction. Although the property itself is not available to be claimed after the auction, the proceeds are available for the owners or heirs to claim at any time at no cost.

Above all, the mission is to reunite Floridians with their unclaimed property so that every dime is returned to its rightful owner. There is a one-in-four chance that you or someone you know has unclaimed property, and you are should visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org today to find what you may not know you are missing!

Bond Refinancing Saves Florida Money

The Division of Bond Finance, which CFO Atwater oversees as a member of the Cabinet, has refinanced nearly $6.14 billion in outstanding debt since July 2010, resulting in a debt savings of $1.16 billion for Florida taxpayers. Refinancing outstanding debt to lower interest rates is possible because of the state’s high credit ratings and serves as another example of how fiscal discipline helps keep money in the pockets of hardworking Floridians.

    Year Amount Refinanced Interest Saved
    2011 $1,490,000,000 $193,300,000
    2012 $2,600,000,000 $450,900,000
    2013 $2,050,000,000 $515,600,000
    Total $6,140,000,000 $1,159,800,000

Tropical Storm Andrea Arrives in Florida

CFO Atwater Urges Floridians to Monitor Tropical Storm Andrea, Use Caution Post-Storm

Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater is urging Floridians to monitor storm alerts and prepare to take steps to “Protect Your Home Base” in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Andrea, including calling the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Consumer Services for assistance with insurance claims if needed. CFO Atwater also urges consumers to be on the alert for possible scam artists, including unlicensed contractors and adjusters, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Andrea.Hurricane

“Regrettably, there are individuals who will try to take advantage of consumers in a disaster situation,” CFO Atwater said. “Consumers should verify licensure, refuse to pay cash up front and thoroughly read any contracts prior to signing.”

CFO Atwater urges Floridians to immediately report property damage to their insurance agent and company. If making temporary repairs, keep receipts and document with photos or videos. Additionally, he reminds consumers to never use a generator indoors or in any enclosed area. Avoid using candles, and do not use a candle or lantern near a generator or stored fuel.

Consumers can receive assistance with claims, insurance questions and storm tips by calling 877-My-FL-CFO (877-693-5236) or visiting www.MyFloridaCFO.com. The Division of Consumer Services website, http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/Consumers/, offers videos, brochures, resources and tips, along with a Disaster Preparedness section that includes a home inventory checklist.

News of Interest

New York Times: Private Sector Added 135,000 Jobs in May, Survey Shows

Washington Post: US auto sales see big gains in May

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Taking stock of real estate in the post-recession world

Florida Trend: UF's Innovation Hub nurturing tech gurus

Florida Times-Union: Ethnic chambers of commerce offer bridge to globalize Jax business

Tampa Tribune: Tampa Bay area bartering network increasingly popular

Florida's Bottom Line

Florida's Bottom LineTechnology has revolutionized government accountability by enabling the public to have unprecedented and easy access to government data. This quarterly edition of Florida’s Bottom Line features information about ongoing efforts to continue making government in Florida more open and ethical.

The companion website has graphs and charts on Florida's economy and jobs, economic news and resources, updated as new information is released. Florida’s consumer confidence, a popular barometer of the state’s economy, is gauged through a survey of roughly five-hundred Floridians each month. Consumer confidence is determined by asking five standard questions about each respondent’s financial situation and outlook for the economy.

A monthly survey of employers is taken by the government to determine total nonagricultural payroll employment, which essentially measures how many jobs exist. This survey, known as the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, polls around 141,000 employers nationally.

Florida’s Bottom Line website will keep you aware of the changing state of Florida's economy.